jump to navigation

The City of Orchids August 4, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, Armchair Economist, I, Lawyer.

It’s Monday night in Dipolog as I am writing this entry. I just had dinner with an old law school buddy, Atty. Christoper “Popoy” Mah, who was my fellow swimmer in the Law swimming team, as well as my room mate during my 6-month review for the Bar. Popoy, who is a native of Dipolog, took me out to dinner at a non-Sunburst Fried Chicken restaurant (where we had grilled salmon, yum!), and afterwards he took me to Dapitan city where we hung out at a small tourist attraction called Gloria de Dapitan. (Yes folks, on its inauguration, it was attended by no less than the original La Gloria, whom we know more popularly as Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo).

This trip is probably my fourth or fifth to Dipolog, as I’ve explained in a previous entry, to litigate a certain hearing. Over time, I have walked and toured around the city, observing its people, sampling its cuisine (alright, alright… sampling its Sunburst Fried Chicken), and generally losing myself among its populace.

If anything, Dipolog reminds me of Cebu in the mid-1980’s, a sleepy town poised for an economic boom. The feel and the vibe is definitely there, as well as all the key ingredients which was necessary for the “Ceboom” phenomenon.

For one, Dipolog has a visionary administrator in the person of Zamboanga del Norte Governor, the Hon. Rolando Yebez, who has implemented good programs for tourism, industry and agriculture. His leadership is so prized by the people of Zamboanga del Norte that he won the last elections by a landslide over his opponent.

Another important feature is Dipolog’s beautiful beaches, which I daresay looks better than the ones over at Mactan, Cebu. But other than being a nice tourist attraction, Dipolog also protects certain areas by setting up marine sanctuaries strongly enforced by anti dynamite fishing regulations and controls. Since its ecosystem is well-protected, they have strong potential for an eco-tourism industry. My friend Popoy particularly recommends Dipolog and Dapitan’s beautiful dive spots. A few years from now, I wouldn’t be surprised if Dipolog and Dapitan become Mindanao’s answer to Boracay.

A third feature is Dipolog’s strong agricultural industry in the form of marine resources, and lush agricultural lands. Being located beside open seas, Dipolog has rich fishing grounds. In fact, this has spawned the growth of its well-reknowned bottled sardines, which are exported both domestically and internationally. I brought home some bottles myself, as pasalubong for family and friends.

Expounding on the agricultural industry, Dipolog’s vast and long shoreline is likewise dotted with coconut plantations, which has supplemented the local income with the exportation of nata de coco and copra.

Another factor that could lead to its success are its beautiful roads. The roads leading from Dipolog to Dapitan and onwards is even better than the roads we have in Cebu. Much much better. It is better maintained, with nary a crack or a pothole to ruin one’s driving experience. That’s why I enjoy riding on a habal-habal on my trips there. It’s a joy to drive past the localities and savor the rustic charm, which at night, is well-lit by street lamps for safe night-time driving.

In the matter of infrastructure, both Dapitan and Dipolog each have their respective wharves for boats and ships. Although I am no civil engineer, I doubt however whether the waters of both cities are deep enough to support the large vessels which ply international maritime routes (which Cebu and Manila has), but nevertheless, both cities have good access to open seas.

Dipolog already has its own existing airport, although I’ve heard that it hasn’t been used for some time due to the unavailability of flights supported by our local airlines, but given an appreciable number of tourists and human traffic, I believe that over time, the local airlines will soon be chartering flights to Dipolog City.

The people? I feel like I never left Cebu. Historically, the Dipolog/Dapitan area used to be populated with its own native-born culture, called the Subanos, back in pre-Spanish times. These people were said to have their own language, but I guess that language died out during the Spanish Colonial era because the only language I’ve ever encountered during my trips there is Bisaya, in particular the staccatic and clipped Cebuano variant (as opposed to the softer and more lyrical Bisaya spoken by Leyteños, Boholanos and Cagayanons). This is because, over the years, people from Bohol, Cebu and Negros have moved to Dipolog and populated it, notably during Spanish times when masons and carpenters from the Visayas were employed by the Spaniards to build the infrastructures of Dipolog/Dapitan. (Dipolog used to be part of Dapitan until it broke away as an independent town somewhere in 1912 during American occupation).

However, more and more Visayans (especially Cebuanos and Boholanos) moved to the Dapitan/Dipolog area in the 1950’s, a fact mentioned to me by my dad, who said that when Pres. Ramon Magsaysay caused the enactment of the Homestead Patent Act, there was a great diaspora of entrepreneurs, farmers and thrill-seekers from the Visayas into the various provinces of Mindanao, which, back then, was hailed as “the Land of Promise.” Vast tracks of agricultural land was being offered by the Philippine government at a really cheap price, hoping to lure people from the Visayas who had dreams of becoming their own hacienderos into populating the underdeveloped lands of Mindanao. I guess a lot of Cebuanos and Boholanos found their way to Dipolog and Dapitan, judging from the language and traits I’ve observed during my stay there. In fact, I daresay that a lot of it is Cebuano stock, judging from the family names that I’ve encountered, which are also old families in Cebu, such as my very own Perez namesakes.

In my opinion, the only things needed to put Dipolog more prominently in the economic map are:

(1) A strong academic institution with modern-day facilities. A University would be nice… U.P. or U.S.C., perhaps? Dipolog needs a good college to develop the existing skill-set of its well-populated youth, to supplement the skill and knowledge level of the community’s workforce, hence, removing the need to send its children off to Cebu, Cagayan de Oro and Davao in order to get good quality education, because chances are, when these youths hie off to the more modernized cities, they will not likely be coming back to live in Dipolog.

(2) A large manufacturing and/or industrial facility. One the likes of Atlas Mining Co. or the Shemberg Manufacturing Plant, or even an equivalent of the Balamban shipyard, in order to spur development, investment and employment in the community.

The one thing that keeps these from happening, I believe, is Dipolog’s proximity to the more unpopular regions of Mindanao, which, I think, is an unfair case of guilt by association. In my numerous trips to Dipolog, I can personally vouch for the peace-and-order situation of the locality. I actually feel safer walking in the streets of Dipolog than I am in either Cebu or Manila.

I do believe Dipolog and Dapitan have so much potential for economic prosperity, but hopefully, not at the price of losing its beautiful provincial charm and its wonderfully protected ecosystem. Given a good break, over time, I wouldn’t be surprised that this area will become one of the true urban metropolises of the Philippines.


Official Website of the City of Dipolog

Official Website of the City of Dapitan



1. bisdakinnaconcretejungle - August 6, 2007

bai, spanish ba ila storyahan didto? javacano ba ang tawag ana? sorry, dili man gud ko familiar sa mga lingwahe diri sa tong nasud..

pero kanang sardinas gud mura’g kinatsila og style bah.. 🙂

2. northwolf - August 6, 2007

Binisaya ang ilang stinoryaan didto “Sekret”. Hehehe. Ang Chabacano sa Zamboanga City and the places around Zamboanga del Sur…

Zamboanga del Norte man ang Dipolog og Dapitan.

3. tinuod nga botbot - August 6, 2007

ah ok.. mura’g napatik na jud na sa imong dila ang “Sekret” dah.. hehehehe…

naa pa ka sa dipolog atty? asa akong sinugatan? aw wala man diay ko mosugat no? kung moingon sad ko nga pasalubong, kalaw-ay pud kay mura man sad naa tay gilubong nga tarugo hehehehehe

mavuang ko yadz..

4. northwolf - August 6, 2007

Hahaha. Naa na kos Sugbo yaj. Halok ra juy mahatag nako nimo.

5. girlfromdipolog - September 6, 2007

hala! hahaha.. attorney na diay si christopher mah? cool! how’s katrina margarita? she was my dear friend in grade school.

6. northwolf - September 6, 2007

Yeah…. I fear for the Philippines… Christoper Mah is now a lawyer. Hahaha. Katrina Margarita? Do you mean Siobe, his sister? I haven’t seen her since I was still in law school. I guess she’s doing alright.

7. girlfromdipolog - September 30, 2007

Hahaha… Funny man ka oi.

I like this entry: a must-read about Dipolog! Tinuod jud imong mga analyses. Dapat himoon ka consultant ni Yebes.

8. closefriend in college - March 11, 2008

Hi, Kindly send my warm regards to Popoy. It’s been a long time since the last time I talked to him abroad.Where is he living now in Cebu or in Dipolog? Do you know where to contact him? I’m happy for him that his dream to be a lawyer came true.

9. Vangie Ramirez - April 3, 2008

Hello there! My sister in New York just got back from Dipolog for a 3 week vacation. I got PINEAPPLE HOPIA as a pasalubong. I thought that was the BEST hopia I ever tasted; it just melt in your mouth sooooooo.. smoothly. Every night I dreamed of that taste! She said she bought it from Mennen’s gift mart, but my niece said The Montanos baked it, I don’t know the first name.
So, may be I could get it for a lesser price if I buy it directly from the source. Mennen’s price is 29 pesos/bag (8pcs).

10. lisngag - May 13, 2008

Nice entry. makahilak man sad ta. mingaw na ko dapitan / dipolog. ABC high school alumnus here 😀

bitaw. tingala man ko wala’y lambo ning dapita (1 of the top 3 poorest provinces in the philippines). Peaceful man unta.. Dapat naay manlimbasug ug dala ug industriya didto :D. Pero di lang pud palabi kay mapangit na pud 😛

Congrats and good luck mga torni 😀

11. Armand - May 22, 2008

Finally coming home for good to DPL after 15 years in the U.S. Reading your posts is like part of my “re-immersion program”. Daghang salamat! I hope our paths will cross some day. Cheers!

12. historymaker Biznesman - November 6, 2008

New development diay sa city ang nag-open ga 1 hectare Lee Plaza City Central Dipolog. Gud day sa tanan.

13. dashalvin - December 24, 2008

Yes, magtukod napud og laing mall sa Dipolog. GAISANO City Mall. hehe

14. BOY NEGRO!!! - January 22, 2009


15. BOY NEGRO!!! - January 22, 2009


16. dashalvin - February 7, 2009

Ktong luyo sa bulwagan, no date pa man wen cla magstart pero sure na.

17. Dash Alvin - February 11, 2009

For active updates about Dipolog. Just visit http://www.skyscrapercity.com n search 4 Dipolog and Dapitan Cities. Forum po to. Thnks n God bless.

juvanie - September 19, 2009

uie…unsaon pag.apil anang forum ninyo?..interested jud ko bwt ana esp.anag maghatag mo ug updates bout dipolog..kay ako taga dipolog pud and i love to read and browse in the computer the development in my city..heheh…

Dash - October 4, 2009

Magparegister lang ka. just follow the instructions didto.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: